The Abyss called Science Fiction

Science fiction  has fascinated me since childhood though I did not know it by that name. My earliest exposure was during my 5th year when I used to enjoy a series on television called ‘Giant Robot’ which was a story about a boy who controlled a robot and fought evil villains. At 10, a Hindi television series called 'Indradanush' captured my imagination. It was an interesting serial that had aliens, artificial intelligence and time travel. Then at 15, there was was ‘Lost in Space’,  a story of a family who drift away far into space and encounter many strange worlds and alien races. However somehow books in the genre always tended to intimidate me. There was always a fear that they would be beyond my limited comprehension capabilities. An brief foray into Arthur C Clarke’s 'Space Odyssey' series did not make matters better. Only in my 20th year of life, was I able to finally break my mental shackles and step into this alien territory.

Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert - if you have read only these two authors and nothing else, I would still let you get away calling yourself a science fiction buff. The two came into my life during my early college days and I was completely ensnared. I became not just a convert but a science fiction fanatic. Having experienced the literally world shattering events in science fiction, most other genre of popular fiction seemed but mundane village gossip in comparison. I began to feel claustrophobic in contemporary settings . Not for me the restraints of space and time. Not for me me the restraints of reality. Not for me the restraints of human mortality.  I wanted to soar into space at the speed of light and faster.  I wanted to peek into the future and peer into the past. I wanted to see the rise of a civilization and its fall and to live through it all. I wanted to see other worlds, other beings and other cultures - those that can be imagined and those that can't.

All good things, they say, come in small packages. But not science fiction. Nor fantasy. Exceptions aside, they usually come in bulky intimidating tomes. And oftentimes not just one volume at that but an entire series spanning anywhere between three to twelve volumes. This is one of the factors that acts as a barrier to the entry of new readers into science fiction. But then how can one expect to experience in the space of just a few pages a grand saga spanning not over just nations and worlds but entire galaxies and universes; not over just centuries and millennia but whole eras and eons.

Some science fictions authors get carried away in their zeal to describe and explain every little thing that the books often begin to start reading like text books. Others in their attempt to give the reader a truly other worldly experience, straight away launch into the story, leaving lost readers to find their own way around a completely bizarre and inexplicable world. Arthur C Clarke is an example of the first kind; Frank Herbert an example of the second. Either of these can be intimidating to the uninitiated reader. The one due to abundance of information and the other due to the scarcity of it. But again that's the whole charm. No one goes on expeditions to climb the local anthill, do they?

In the decade and a half since I started out, I have moved on from Herbert, Clarke and Asimov,  on to Robert Henlein, Orson Scott Card, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Jack Vance, Douglas Adams, Larry Niven, Greg Bear, Gordon Dickson, Anne McCaffrey and C J Cherryh. Few are the ones I have read; many are the ones I still haven't. I still remain as excited about this dive into the abyss called science fiction as I was thirty years back. As I was fifteen years back. 

Comments

  1. First of all, Congratulations to you TF for you have taken up this courage of starting a new blog and talk about sci-fi when most of us will put everything in one blog. Secondly, though I am not a fan of this genre, I hope to get some of it and be more interested. Looking forward to your posts.

    Would you not consider enabling email subscription feature on this blog?

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    1. Thanks, Diwa. I still have Lucifer House Inc. for putting everything else. Hope to see you here often and eventually try out a science fiction novel. Thanks for the widget suggestion. Will add it. Though, I have all that on the other one, it evolved over time and I need to go through the process again here.

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  2. Aha! Congrats for karthikl.com... your own url!! :)
    This blog is on a subject about which my knowledge is zilch... haven't even heard of the serials that you mentioned at the start of your post. But by the time I reached the end, 'science fiction' had begun to exercise its charm.

    I do have a few books by Clarke... and even Carl Sagan... and a few others who write this sort of stuff... but I've never read any of them.

    Hope your posts will make me read science fiction...


    Arvind Passey
    www.passey.info

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    1. Thanks a lot, Mr. Passey. My objective here is to encourage people to try this fascinating genre. There are so many facets to this that normally people do not recognize. I want to introduce people to these facets and bring more people into the fold for this genre. Clarke and Sagan are hardly the ones I would recommend for a regular reader but for you, they might be the best to start with given your love for details.

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  3. I am guilty of not reading any Sci-fi literature. I think I was probably too spoiled watching science fiction in Hollywood and TV to consider how it would look like as written word!
    My first foray into this genre was the famous Star Trek original series. Well, there was no looking back after that. Most recently I watched Oblivion with Tom Cruise.
    Looking forward to your future blog posts.

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    1. Rickie - this blog is not just about books. So eventually I will be moving on to movies and TV series as well. Maybe I will get a guest post from you on Star Trek original series. I have not seen it - I have seen only one of the later series. You must try science fiction books. Maybe my posts will help you decide what to try.

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  4. Now a blog that vibes with my tastes in full and a post that expresses exactly how I feel. Though I do not feel that sense of claustrophobia in the normal books, there is a sense of repetition since there are only so many stories that can be told and, having read rather extensively, every normal book gives a sense of deja vu. Science Fiction and Fantasy, on the other hand, give me a new world to explore and fascinate by the setting if not the story.

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    1. True, Suresh. Your one of the very few kindred souls in this regard. My hope is through this blog, we are able to get other people interested and bring more people into our fold.

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  5. As you aptly stated, it requires a lot of patience to go to the depth of sci-fi, which i graciously lacked during my experimental years. I had found heaven in hell created by stephen king.
    After reading your profound love for sci fi im rethinking of experimenting a bit and take up one novel, suggestions are welcome for a beginner like me.
    And ofcourse ill be visiting here regularly, for a dose of that.
    All the best.

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    1. Thanks, Asteria. Shall be giving suggestion. Right now I am starting with series which requires more time and passion but eventually I will mention simpler standalone ones as well. But my blog will give you a flavor of what all kind of things you can find in science fiction and if something strikes the right chord, you can pick up one.

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  6. Interesting. I love science fiction too. Looking forward to seeing more posts and reviews on sci-fi on this blog. I am a big fan of Asimov and H.G. Wells. I loved Ender's game too. I am yet to read Dune.

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    1. Good to see somebody else who already loves science fiction. I hope you get to find some new books to read thanks from my blog.

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  7. I have read one Sci-Fi romantic story in eBook format couple of years back. Don't remember the name but I remember that it was really really long; however, the story was good. But it didn't work for me. May be I will give this genre another shot. :)

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    1. You should try the works of some of the masters, Pankit instead of reading random works. You can find a few on my blog. If you like the theme you should give it a shot.

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    2. Yeah, I am thinking to give another shot to it after seeing you raving about it so much :)

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    3. You must, Pankti. But something proper.

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  8. Very interesting TF. Science fiction has never been my forte, but I was always intrigued by whatever I heard of it. Even I remember seeing Giant Robot when I was a kid :)...it was definitely one of the highlights !!!

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    1. Good to find someone else who enjoyed Giant Robot as a child.

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